Today in the Assembly following the passing of regulations specifying Welsh language standards, the Commissioner detailed the next steps in the process of imposing standards on organisations.
The Welsh Language Commissioner, Meri Huws, said:
"The fact that the standards have now been passed as regulations means that I can move forward with the statutory process of imposing the new duties on organisations. This means that citizens in Wales are a step closer towards having rights to receive Welsh language services.
"It is important to note, however, that this is not the final step in the process of introducing standards, and that there are other statutory steps that must be followed before organisations will be operating the standards procedure."
Outlining the next steps in the process of imposing standards on the first 26 organisations (Welsh Ministers, county councils and county borough councils in Wales and National Park Authorities), the Commissioner explained her role over the next period:
"In accordance with the legislation, it is a matter for me to decide which standards to impose on each organisation by way of a 'compliance notice’. The compliance notice will specify the exact standards that each organisation should have to comply with and also the date by which they are required to comply with a standard."
The process of introducing standards takes place in a series of rounds. The regulations which have been passed today are in relation to organisations in Round 1, namely Welsh Ministers, county councils and county borough councils in Wales and National Park Authorities. The Commissioner has already began the process of introducing standards to the 119 organisations in Round 2, including health boards, colleges and universities and public bodies in Wales. In May 2015, the process of introducing standards to the 61 organisations in Round 3 will begin, including social housing providers, UK Government departments, water companies, the Royal Mail Group and the Post Office. Then the Commissioner will start introducing standards to other sectors and organisations named in the Measure.
The Commissioner added:
"Our aim is to determine which standards should be specifically applicable to other organisations and sectors named in the Measure. We will publish a schedule for introducing standards to further organisations and sectors once we receive confirmation from Welsh Government of their timetable in terms of preparing and ratifying standards regulations for Round 3."
Timetable for introducing standards to organisations in Round 1
• April-June 2015
The Commissioner prepares individual draft compliance notices for each of the organisations.
• 22 June 2015
A consultation period with the organisations on the contents of the compliance notices will begin (in accordance with section 47 of the Measure).
• 20 July 2015
The consultation period ends and the Commissioner analyzes the responses, and prepares the final compliance notices for each organisation.
• September 2015
The Commissioner gives final compliance notices to the 26 organisations (in accordance with section 44 of the Welsh language (Wales) Measure 2011).
Timetable for introducing standards to organisations in Round 2
• The Commissioner carried out standards investigations (i.e. gathering evidence from the organisations and members of the public) between November 2014 to February 2015
• March – May 2015
Standards reports are drafted, based on the evidence received
• 29 May 2015
Standards reports are presented to Welsh Ministers
• Autumn 2015
Welsh Ministers draft standards regulations for Round 2
Timetable for introducing standards to organisations in Round 3
• 25 May 2015
Standards investigations begin
• October 2015
Standards reports presented to Welsh Ministers
• Welsh Ministers will be responsible for drafting regulations and guiding them through the Assembly. Once this is done, the Commissioner will draft compliance notices, in accordance with the statutory processes.